2019 Best & Brightest MBAs: Stephanie Gomez, University of Maryland (Smith)

Stephanie Gomez

Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland

“Adventure seeking, dog lover, who is warm and welcoming to all.”

Hometown: Manassas, Virginia

Fun fact about yourself: Despite my fear of heights, I have ziplined, cliff-dived, bungee jumped, and experienced the world’s fastest and highest rollercoaster.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Virginia Tech, B.S. in Biological Sciences

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Sepax Technologies Inc., Associate Biochemist, Project Manager

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? GlaxoSmithKline, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Where will you be working after graduation? AstraZeneca, Commercial Leadership Development Program Associate

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

Honors & Scholarships

  • First Year M.V.P of the Class
  • Smith Fellowship Recipient

Leadership/Community Involvement

  • Executive Vice President of the MBA Association
  • Forte Fellow & Ambassador
  • First Year Track Representative
  • Board Member, Latin MBA Student Association

    Board Member, Healthcare Business Association

  • Graduate Assistant, Office of Career Services
  • Greenbelt Animal Shelter Volunteer

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of my leadership as the Executive Vice President of the MBA Association. Prior to business school, l recognized the value of leadership and was content with my own personal style and influencing those directly in my team. However, as I became more embedded within the wider Smith community, I discovered the diversity of my peer’s backgrounds, challenges, and aspirations. This inspired me to take a leadership role that would directly enhance their Smith experience by implementing various changes to both professional and social MBA events. I was only able to accomplish this with the collaboration and support from my fellow peers, staff, and faculty as our organization continues to change. I am truly grateful for the friendships and professional relationships that I developed in the process and that the changes made will be the framework for the following cohort to build upon. I would like to especially thank the MBAA board and my own special board of advisors for their steady, infallible support. ‘A leader is nothing without a great team.’

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? At the beginning of my professional career, I worked primarily within the wet lab, which consisted of independent work and research. Yet, within my first year, I volunteered to begin a regulated training program, joined our organization’s safety committee, and created cross-functional relationships as I yearned to work with others I could learn from. At the culmination of my first year, upper leadership recognized my aspirations and promoted me to an advanced team within our internal research and development department. I was able to work with members from a variety of nationalities and specializations, learning from the most intelligent mentors within our organization. At the end of my third year, my manager revealed that there had been pushback and hesitation at my initial appointment as I had been the youngest member allowed to enter this team. However, he was happy to reveal I had pleasantly surprised those resisters and would be leading my own project team.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Associate Dean of Masters Programs Wendy Moe, who taught our Market Forecasting class. Not only does she have extensive research and experience within corporations, but she also makes a point to share and integrate her experience into the class which is invaluable to her students. She taught us to look holistically at the market and the impact made upon the consumer before even opening an excel sheet. The improvement in my critical thinking and analysis is largely due to the methods learned in her class.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose the Smith School for its small, strong community. From the first interaction with Smith alumni when I interviewed the staff throughout Van Munching Hall, it seems everyone knows who you are and is rooting for you to succeed. When I visited other business schools, especially those with larger cohorts, I found that my guides did not know all their classmates or the people within the halls. As I toured Smith, my guide introduced me to everyone and some offered coffee chats despite only being a candidate. From this, I knew that I would want such a close-knit community to surround me for the next two years.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Truly reflect on which experiences have pushed you to grow and shine. Then, make sure to share them within your application and during the interview process. Given that we are a small cohort, every single one of us has impactful, unique experiences that add to the classroom and our community activities. I can guarantee you that here at Smith, your voice will be heard and valued.

What is the biggest myth about your school? I would say the biggest myth about our school is that our small cohort can be a disadvantage due to a smaller network. On the contrary, because we have developed such authentic, strong ties to Smith and the broader UMD community, I have the same access to a larger network that bigger schools can boast about.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Mario Martinez: Regardless of circumstances or challenges, he always perseveres. Mario’s background in social work through working for RAINN and Mary’s Center has given him a tough shell, while he also maintains compassion for his fellow man. He arrived at Smith with limited business and quantitative background, but he overcame this difficulty and is now pursuing both his MBA and Master of Finance. This is a credit to his work ethic and character. Whenever I have had a tough day, Mario never faltered in providing a smile or hug that would motivate me for the rest of the day. I know he will succeed in everything he puts his mind and heart to.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? While my mom always motivated me to pursue an education and was an excellent role model, my stepfather, Ajay Adhikari, influenced me the most to pursue my MBA. I was 21-years-old when I met him. Within only a few conversations, I recognized his intelligence and wisdom. When we would discuss current markets, he would advise me on career and even got me into the habit of reading the Wall Street Journal. I continued to hold his opinions in the highest regard and desired to approach problems from a more business-oriented point of view. Because of this and my career development, he eventually recommended I study business. I eventually listened to him, not only because he became my dad but because he most definitely knew what he was talking about as the Senior Associate Dean at the Kogod School of Business.

What was the goofiest MBA term or acronym you encountered – and what did it mean? O.W.C.A. – Organization Without a Cool Acronym

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…a traveling animal rescuer.”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less? Invaluable. The assistance I’ve received to transition into the pharmaceutical field, the network I’ve created along the way, and the bump in earnings I will receive was well worth the cost of an MBA education.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  • Backpacking through Europe
  • An African Safari

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? If she couldn’t make you laugh, she at least made you smile.

Hobbies? Spontaneous traveling, a walk in the park with my dog, trying out a new recipe in the kitchen and reading a good book during a cold evening. You will also always find me with a pair of headphones as I seek out new genres and artists all the time.

What made Stephanie such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2019?

“Stephanie has been an outstanding leader of the Maryland Smith community since she set foot on campus two years ago. She immediately stepped up and ran for track representative during her first semester, and went on to run unopposed for the Executive Vice President role on the MBA Association. Her classmates identified Stephanie as best for this job – recognizing her strong interpersonal and management skills in overseeing student clubs and acting as a liaison to the faculty and administration. She continues to improve the MBA program at Smith by bringing forth impactful and actionable ideas. Stephanie brings a unique perspective to the MBA program as her passion for the Latino culture is close to her heart. She has encouraged new events and conversations to expose classmates to new experiences and culture. Her classmates further recognized her leadership by voting her as ‘1st Year MVP.’ Stephanie is successfully transitioning from her relatively unique biochemist background to the business world. She demonstrated such in a GlaxoSmith Kline internship after immersing herself in data analysis-heavy coursework – especially in market forecasting. She prepared herself to effectively work with specialty pharmacies, and payers like HMOs and other vendors to ensure they’re informed about different ways to be reimbursed and to ensure patients are well taken care of. She also created executive monitoring dashboards for senior leadership to improve quality assurance and return on investment in vendor management. Her performance revealed she is well-prepared for her post-graduation role with AstraZeneca as a Commercial Leadership Associate.”

Wendy W. Moe

Associate Dean of Master’s Programs

Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.